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    Turkish army presses gov't to increase authority in fight vs terror

    HotNewsTurkey Staff
    07.10.2008 - 11:27 | Son Güncelleme:

    The Turkish army piles pressure on the government demanding an increase in its authority in its fight against terror, a move that has heightened fears of a backtracking in freedoms as well as human rights.

    The Turkish justice minister said on Tuesday the country is not in a position to make a choice between freedom and security in a bid to soothe concerns that state of emergency conditions would return to the southeastern regions.

     

    “We must assess both our freedom and security and not back track from either of them… Our colleagues working on the technical details (of the new legislation) take this into consideration,” Mehmet Ali Sahin told reporters.

     

    TECHNICAL MEETING

    The Turkish army had demanded five legislative amendments to strengthen its hand in its fight against the terror organization, PKK. Those demands have not been elaborated.

     

    The government had made a series of legislation amendments to comply with European Union standards and, as a result, curbed the military’s authority both in politics and security.

     

    Hurriyet daily reported a meeting was held between officials from the Justice Ministry and military. In the meeting military officials demanded to have the same rights as the police forces and gendarmerie in its fight against terrorism.

     

    They also demanded an extension to the four-day long custody period for those detained in anti-terrorism operations and asked for the custody period for each crime to be individually defined.

     

    EXPERTS WORRIED

    The demands of the military to widen its authority has raised concerns among experts over the situation of freedoms and rights.

     

    Experts and observers say that making legal amendments to widen the authority of the military without declaring a state of emergency would violate the constitution.

     

    “If the conditions are in place, then a state of emergency should be declared. This is under the government’s authority. If the military uses the authority of state of emergency periods without an official declaration, it would violate the constitution,” an expert, who declined to be named, told Hurriyet.

     

    Declaration of a state of emergency is particularly sensitive in Turkey. The government had given extraordinary authority to military officials as well as government officials in the southeastern regions to fight against terrorism when the PKK’s actions peaked in late 1990s and early 2000s.

     

    The last two states of emergency were lifted in November 2002 in the southeastern regions of Diyarbakir and Sirnak, strongholds of the terror organization. Both provinces had been governed under a state of emergency rule that once covered 11 other provinces, for 15 years.

     

    Re-launching the state of emergency is likely to receive a harsh reaction from the European Union.

     

    DEMANDS OF MILITARY

    Radikal daily said Tuesday the PKK’s bloody attack on Friday, which left 17 soldiers killed and 20 other injured, had became “an excuse” for attempts to limit rights and freedoms.

     

    According the report, the military had demanded a search right for the unseen sections of cars, the removal of the judicial warrant condition for house searches and ID checks, an extension of the mandate of police and gendarmerie to military officials including interrogations, the authority to block communication using signal-jamming and to allow the gendarmerie to conduct investigations in the areas currently under the jurisdiction of the police forces during operations. 

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